Woman’s claims against dat­ing agen­cies dis­missed

Irish Examiner - - News - Liam Heylin

A 64-year-old blind woman who sued two in­ter­net dat­ing agen­cies be­cause she claimed she was dis­crim­i­nated against has had her claims dis­missed.

Mar­ian Kane of Sun­val­ley Court, Sun­val­ley Drive, Cork, brought cases against the dat­ing agen­cies, In­tro and Two’s Com­pany, claim­ing that each had dis­crim­i­nated against her on the ba­sis of her blind­ness.

Ms Kane had brought cases against the dat­ing agen­cies to the Work­place Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion but they were dis­missed. Claims were brought to Cork Cir­cuit Court yes­ter­day by way of ap­peal and once again they were dis­missed.

When Judge Seán Ó Donnab­háin heard the ev­i­dence in the first case against In­tro and dis­missed that, Ms Kane com­plained that he should not have been hear­ing the case be­cause she said there was a con­flict of in­ter­est be­cause she had been in his court pre­vi­ously.

The judge re­jected this sug­ges­tion and asked if she was go­ing ahead with the se­cond case against Two’s Com­pany.

She said she was but added: “I sup­pose you will find there was no dis­crim­i­na­tion against me there ei­ther.”

Pa­trick Bar­rett, bar­ris­ter, said both agen­cies de­nied any dis­crim­i­na­tion and men­tioned their mem­ber­ship in­cluded peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in­clud­ing blind­ness. In re­spect of the In­tro agency, he said that Ms Kane’s €50 de­posit was re­turned to her be­cause she be­came liti­gious and ag­gres­sive on the phone.

Ms Kane said she heard an ad on the ra­dio in May 2016 about the dat­ing agency be­ing in­clu­sive so she in­quired about join­ing, telling them at the out­set that she was blind. She said felt to­tally dis­crim­i­nated against and that she was part of so­ci­ety too.

Fer­gal Har­ring­ton, who runs the In­tro agency, said that hav­ing made an ar­range­ment for an in­tro­duc­tory meet­ing and then resched­uled it to suit Ms Kane, he said that she said: “You don’t want me, you are turn­ing me away be­cause I am blind.”

Mr Har­ring­ton said they still had an ap­point­ment to meet at this point and it be­came very awk­ward and very un­usual, with the con­ver­sa­tion flip­ping con­stantly from hot to cold.

“I knew this woman was set­ting us up,” he said. It was a very dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion… She said ‘I will take this to the bit­ter end, you have dis­crim­i­nated against me’.”

Judge Ó Donnab­háin said: “I ac­cept ev­i­dence of Mr Har­ring­ton. This re­la­tion­ship [with the agency] went off be­cause of the at­ti­tude of the plain­tiff in this case. There is no ques­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion. Har­ring­ton car­ried out his busi­ness in a proper and le­gal man­ner.”

Ms Kane said a woman on the phone from the Two’s Com­pany agency said to her when she said she was blind: “You can­not see the per­son and you are not a size 10.”

Mr Bar­rett said such a com­ment was never made. Ms Kane in­sisted it was.

Jen­nifer Hask­ins of Two’s Com­pany said her as­sis­tant be­came very dis­tressed deal­ing with Ms Kane on the phone so she [Ms Hask­ins] took over the call and in­formed Ms Kane there was a wait­ing list at that time in May 2016 for women in Mun­ster sign­ing up to the agency and she would put her on the wait­ing list.

Judge Ó Donnab­háin said, “I can­not find any dis­crim­i­na­tion [by Two’s Com­pany]. An agree­ment never came to fruition. I dis­miss the case with costs [against Ms Kane].”

Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney

Mar­ian Kane in her home in Cork City.

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